But fundamentally, even with this recent surge of migrants, we are not talking about that many people. There were huge flows of unauthorized immigration during the Bush administration, with numbers regularly many times as large as those seen under President Trump.
Now, that was not an ideal situation for those immigrants, who are largely still stuck in legal limbo. But it’s not like the country was teetering on the brink of collapse as a result. By way of comparison, in Jordan refugees now make up about 10 percent of its population. In Lebanon every fourth person is a refugee. Those places are struggling to handle so many people, but neither have they fallen into Hobbesian anarchy. To reach Lebanon’s mark the U.S. would have to take in about 82 million people — about two-thirds of all of Mexico, or more than the entire population of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela combined.
The history of unauthorized immigration under Bush is instructive. The media largely ignored it because Republicans didn’t raise a fuss, and most Americans barely paid attention because it was objectively a minor issue.